Femmes et guerres

Women, Children and Agent Orange (A Case study at Hoa Vang Ward, Da Nang City)

During the war in Vietnam, the Americans sprayed over 21 mil­lion gal­lons of toxic che­mi­cals, inclu­ding 18.2 mil­lion gal­lons of agent-orange with dioxin onto 10% of the land area in Southern Vietnam which resul­ted in conta­mi­na­ting and des­troying mil­lions of hec­ta­res of forests and agri­cultu­ral land. Many people believe that apart from the harm­ful effects on the envi­ron­ment, this che­mi­cal also caused serious effects on mil­lions of Vietnamese people’s lives and health ; this effect may still be found in the gene­ra­tions of chil­dren born after the war. At pre­sent it is esti­ma­ted that 4.8 mil­lion Vietnamese people were and still are affec­ted by agent orange. Hundreds of thou­sands of people have died and mil­lions of people and their off­spring are suf­fe­ring to this day from poverty and disea­ses as a conti­nuing conse­quence of agent-orange. Among these vic­tims, women and chil­dren are those who suffer the most.

Da Nang was once the sight of a very vio­lent bat­tle­field with mili­tary bases such as Chu Lai Army Base and Da Nang Air Base, the second lar­gest air base in the south during the war. On this land, still conta­mi­na­ted with remai­ning dioxin che­mi­cal, ter­ri­ble effects were and still are engen­de­red on women, chil­dren and their loved ones.

Our research in Hoa Vang shows that women and chil­dren were those who suf­fe­red the most from dioxin : their bodies were filled with toxic poi­sons and were also the ones who had to earn the family live­li­hood, yet they took care of their chil­dren and rela­ti­ves who were also vic­tims of agent-orange. They pro­vi­ded medi­cal and daily care for the vic­tims. They still face hard­ship in fin­ding work and ear­ning enough income. They suffer from a lack of rele­vant know­ledge needed for nur­sing agent-orange vic­tims, and espe­cially, they lack access to a social and sup­por­ting net­work for agent-orange vic­tims.

The jour­ney toward jus­tice for agent-orange vic­tims must be conti­nued, yet there is ano­ther extre­mely impor­tant post-war task which is to sup­port agent-orange vic­tims and their rela­ti­ves, espe­cially women and chil­dren, to relieve the hard­ship on their lives.